Dive Expedition Spitsbergen Scuba Diving
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LetsGoDigital Underwater Review
Scuba Dive Expedition Spitsbergen
Sony A350 Review
BS Kinetics Gibson Underwater Housing Test - Page 2/3
BS Kinetics Gibson test
Published : Sunday, December 7th 2008
Written by Karin Brussaard
"Dive Expedition Spitsbergen Norway"
It's time to go for a dive. I slide out of the zodiac and I can feel the cold water tingle on my forehead. This is the only part of my body that can be touched by the water. Other than that, it is strapped into a dry-suit that also has boots and gloves attached to it. The back of my dry-suit has a zipper to enable me to enter the suit, after which I pull a seal of flexible neoprene over my head. This seal is so tight around my neck, that it prevents water entering the suit. When a buddy closes the waterproof zip, my body remains completely dry. This is pleasant since the temperature of the water I just entered is below freezing point: minus 1 degree Celsius. When I turn around, I can see pieces of ice floating around where we will dive. In an instant, the cold is forgotten as I see the beautiful bluish floes. Every time I swim a little bit further underwater, the ice looks different again. During the briefing we had a clear warning not to swim beneath the ice because of the danger of the ice crashing down.
Scuba diving at Spitsbergen BS Kinetics Gibson housing review
Diving from the Zodiac Handling the underwater housing
Camera housing
BS Kinetics housing review BS Kinetics camera housing handgrips
Moreover, ice moves fast and the expedition leaders do not want us to get caught in between the floes. Safety first at all times! We are not able to see the bottom of the sea and therefore no anemones or starfish, but the ice is so fascinating I don't even think of it twice. I try to get as good a picture as I can of this bluish-white ice. After thirty minutes, my buddy and I are starting to feel the cold creep up so we decide to go back to the zodiac. I am not the only one who enjoyed this dive tremendously; my buddy is grinning from ear to ear. It is quite obvious he too, enjoyed this underwater adventure. The low water temperature and the use of dry-gloves are the most extreme test conditions for an underwater housing. The BS Kinetics passes with flying colours. The handgrips look a bit silly at first glance, however, they are extremely pleasant to hold. The distance between the right handgrip and the shutter release button seemed to have been hand-made for my hand! A flash arm can be attached to the outside of every handgrip which works perfectly. The buttons to operate the camera with are sufficiently large to press or turn with dry-gloves on.
BS Kinetics Gibson Spitsbergen Expedition Sony Alpha SLR Camera
Spitsbergen Expedition
Sony Alpha SLR
Scuba Diving Dark Carbon Housing Scuba Diving Spitsbergen Dive Expedition Sony Alpha Live view
The underwater housing is made of (dark) carbon. This means that the camera itself is not visible once inside. To have a clue what you are doing, the buttons contain stickers as for what function they serve. Nearly all functions can be operated by the buttons of the underwater housing. One unpleasant factor is the on/off button that cannot be operated. I think that is a real miss. If you forget to turn on the camera before closing the underwater housing, you will have a dive without pictures. This is even more applicable to Spitsbergen where you cannot just take the camera out of the housing and in order to turn it on belatedly.
The original plan is to sail around Spitsbergen via the north side. The north namely provides the most chance to spot some polar bears. The day after the dive between the ice floes, we sail slightly northward. At one point we sail in the midst of the ice floes. The northern wind has blown pack ice from higher up north to the south. And at that point, the captain takes the decision that it is too dangerous to continue the journey further to the north. Although his vessel is able to withstand pack ice, the zodiacs will not be able to leave the vessel this way. And that means it will be impossible to dive or to explore the land. Unfortunately, it also means that the chance of spotting a polar bear has dropped drastically as well. Since this is a genuine expedition, the elements decide the route the vessel takes and not the humans. We are forced to sail to the south of Spitsbergen. There is no ice here. There should be a wall underwater though. And with the proper instructions we should be able to locate it although this also depends on the sight underwater. My buddy and I descend and we are pleasantly surprised by the view that reaches even more than 20 meters. We descend even further and we spot the surface at 19 meters. The surface is covered with sea anemones and other anemones. I immediately start shooting as I am very curious to see if Live View is as fast as Sony claim. I am not disappointed at all: the auto focus has no lag whatsoever. I predict that this feature will convince many users of compact cameras to make the step to a digital reflex camera. However, I have two complaints about Live View and these are; the limited reproduction of approximately 90% of the actual view and the darkening of the monitor when I want to underexpose a picture in manual mode. Of course, this darkening is a warning for the photographer to say: "Watch out! Your picture will be underexposed!", the thing is, it restricts the possibilities to work in manual mode. The camera is obviously not aware of the fact that there are two external flash units that help to correctly expose the picture. In the end, I have not swum more than around 25 meters this dive. There is so much to capture I completely forgot about the wall we were supposed to find. And as I turn around at the end of the dive, I spot the promised wall. Unfortunately, my diving computer and my cold hands tell me it's time to go up since I've been down for 45 minutes already.
Dive Expedition Spitbergen
BS Kinetics Gibson Dome port Walruses on the ice
BS Kinetics Dome Port Spitsbergen Walruses
Underwater I concentrate in taking pictures with an overview. The ice floes and underwater landscapes are that fascinating and colourful, I find it a pity to take macro shots. It's the 11-18 mm wide angle lens of Sony that I use. The dome port of the BS Kinetics closes by means of a bayonet mount on the underwater housing. Turning it a quarter to the right suffices to attach the port to the housing. The dome port is extremely compact. This is pleasant while travelling as well as underwater. The bigger the dome port, the more resistance while swimming. The combination of the underwater housing with the dome port and two Sea & Sea YS 110 flashes is almost neutral. Personally, I like the set to be somewhat negative. It is easier having to hold the camera up underwater than having to pull it down. Although a heavy negative would not be that pleasant either: it would soon turn into a game of weightlifting. At 11 mm the dome port shows some distortion, however, this decreases when zooming in. One morning I am quietly chatting away to the captain as a sudden noise surrounds us. There seem to be walruses on the ice. From where I stand, I can only see a brown blob on the ice, nothing that looks like a walrus. The captain skilfully manoeuvres the big vessel closer to the blob and slowly but surely the contour of the brown blob becomes visible. The walruses are nicely nestled against each other and seem to have just woken up from a deep sleep. They peer around curiously and question is: who is watching who? Finally, we are close enough to take some pictures. And close enough means, close enough for a telephoto lens. These colossal giants can weigh up to an incredible 1400 kilos; you definitely don't want to disturb them and experience their rage.
Sony 70-200mm lens Sony Super Steady Shot Photos underexposed
Sony Alpha A350 Body
Sony Super Steady Shot
SanDisk memory
Sony Alpha A350 Body Sony A350 Super SteadyShot SanDisk Extreme Flash memory
The 70-200mm lens focuses fast, very fast, also at 200mm. The lens offering a bright of f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom range is clearly noticeable. And the super sonic wave motor inside the lens performs greatly. Although the body of the Alpha 350 is not that big, the combination of housing and telephoto lens of 1340 grams is pleasant to hold. I took pictures without making use of a tripod which is very well possible since the Sony Alpha features an integrated stabilizer (SuperSteady Shot). Shooting in ice and snow conditions is usually awkward and it is difficult to get a correct exposure. The Sony Alpha A350 seems to be prepared since the camera responds strongly to the light areas in the picture. Pictures with snow in the background tended to be underexposed. Obviously Sony is trying to prevent light areas to be bleached at all cost. And to be honest, I appreciated this feature because it is easier to correct an underexposed picture than a picture with bleached areas.
Underwater Hosuing Review
BS Kinetics Gibson
Rating & Conclusion
BS Kinetics Gibson Housing
The Live View of the Sony Alpha 350 is the fastest I have ever seen on a digital reflex camera, and can certainly be used underwater. I do regret the monitor not offering a 100% view. The dual anti-dust system is well thought-through because the shake mechanism is activated after every change of lens. And that is exactly when the highest risk of getting dust occurs. The underwater housing is extremely pleasant to hold and operate, also with large dry-gloves. Regrettably, the underwater housing does not offer an on/off button.
BS Kinetics Housing Ratings
++ Fast Live View in auto focus
++ Housing operable well with dry-gloves
++ Dual anti-dust system

-- No on/off button on the housing
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